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review 2016-05-24 09:13
Magical, edgy and imaginative
One Way Fare (Book 1, Null City) - Barb Taub

“Suppose neutral angels were able to talk Yahweh and Lucifer – God and Satan, to use their popular titles – into settling out of court. What would be the terms of the compromise? Specifically, how would they divide the assets of their early kingdom?” – Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (2000)

 

I really only picked up the book as it was advertised on one of my “Free Today” book emails. You know the ones, and if you don’t, why not?  So anyway, there it was, and the cover caught my eye. It was the first in a series, free, written by an author I hadn’t heard of. Why not?

 

Now, here is the thing. One Way Fare had a fairly interesting blurb, though I was a bit leery of the whole “Angels and Demons” shtick. Honestly? The whole Hellhound/Poodle thing is what really caught my attention. And you know what? For all that the Angels/Demons/Time Travel thing is normally so not my thing, well, I was entranced. I mean, really, truly entranced. Taub’s writing is unique. She has shaken up a couple of genres, and written her characters, and her story, in ways that held me rapt from page one.

 

In the room made of light, they plan the end of Hell.

 

The thing is . . . I’m rooting for Hell in this one. No, really. I mean, Lucifer is The Morning Star – which the oldest Latin texts portray as either John the Baptist, or Jesus himself. After all, it isn’t until much later that texts were converted to the concept of The Morning Star as being “Satan,” an evil character. Let’s face it – the ideation of “God vs Lucifer” is based in the takeover of various Egyptian, Canaanite and Jewish tales of gods who fought fiercely amongst themselves for power. To the victor go the spoils – an the right to tell the tales in any way they see fit.

 

Taub’s Hell is a nightmare for anyone who considers intellectualism to be threatening (you know, Right Wing Republicans, that sort of thing). As Ray Williams, in Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America (Psychology Today, July 07, 2014), says,  “There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.”

Ha! Send me to Hell, because this place is Interesting!  And a whole “Hell” of a lot more inclusive than “Heaven” could ever hope to be. Or even “Haven,” the place where the Fallen Angels who want to recreate the “Heaven” they were thrown from, exist. So, a bunch of pissy Angels want to destroy Hell – and they don’t care that, “Not only will that strategy lead to massive death and destruction for humans, but it could mean war between Fallen and Angels.” Wow, total narcissism really can be deadly! (I still wish I could remember the book I read, I think it was in the late 70’s or early 80’s, where ‘god’ is so busy staring into a mirror admiring himself – well, keep telling a guy he is handsome, you just know that spells spoiled rotten, self-centered ego maniac, right? – he allows the universe to go down in flames around him.)

 

Then, of course, there is the time travel aspect of the book. Honestly, I am not usually a time travel book lover. They never seem to get the continuity right. But Taub proved me wrong. Her writing makes sense. “I have a theory about time. Things can’t happen if they didn’t.” And what is even more crushing? Things still happen if they did. Taub holds all of the timelines tightly in her grasp, flowing backwards and forwards, building a gossamer web of linkages that never left me thinking “Huh? What just happened?”

This series is now at the top of my “Must Read New (to me) Series.” I already downloaded the second, DON’T TOUCH, Null City Book 2. There are some issues that weren’t tied up all the way in book 1, and I look forward with great eagerness to see how they carry forward through the series. One Way Fare is edgy, imaginative, and deeply unusual compared to my usual experience with this type of book. Highly recommended!

 

And remember this – “Why do they blame me for all their little failings? They use my name as if I spent my entire days sitting on their shoulders, forcing them to commits acts they would otherwise find repulsive. ‘The devil made me do it.’ I have never made one of them do anything. Never. They live their own tiny lives. I do not live their lives for them.”  ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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review 2016-05-21 02:29
Predictable, needs research but a good idea
Dark Hearts: A Paranormal Crime Thriller - Abby Greenwood

“The mind of man is capable of anything.”  ― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

 

“And all we feared inside the night
shows true in morning’s biased light.”
― Garth von Buchholz

 

I give Abby Greenwood kudos for trying. The idea is solid for her book, “Dark Hearts,” and could easily be transformed to any situation where people fight and kill one another simply because they are “different.” Well, and to turn a profit, of course. Native Americans slaughtered by the whites who came to this land. Religious difference, skin color differences, the list goes on and on.

 

The thing is, there were too many issues with the book to allow me to completely enjoy it. First, I was expecting a tense, suspenseful crime thriller. What is here is a mild police procedural with a romantic bent, based around a serial killer, race tensions in LA, and two officers who are doing their best to track down who is murdering people and stirring up said race tensions, and why. The “bad guys” were easily spotted, however, and their reasoning was fairly blatant early on in the book. The story arc was also damaged by lack of continuity – first one, then the other, and it was irritating that there was no editing for continuity. It shows up very early in the book and threw me off. There is also a ‘dropped’ story line that disappointed me.

 

Then we come to the ‘police procedural’ backbone of the book, and the lack of procedural and logistical knowledge of the author had me crossing my eyes. If you are going to write about a profession, whether it be police work, firefighting, or computer hacking, you have to research – something that was lacking here.

 

Overall, if you are just looking for an easy read, this is quick, and as I said the idea is good. I wish I could have enjoyed it more than I did. Great cover though.

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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review 2016-05-18 22:14
A content editor could make this book exceptional
Beneath the Blood Moon - Amanda Jayde

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” -Buddha

 

The chaining of Fenrir cost the god Tyr his right hand” – Völuspá,  translated to English in The Poetic Edda,  Henry Adams Bellows, 1923

 

Free On Kindle!

 

Sara Watson thought her life was bad enough as it was. Working as a stripper and part time Vegas showgirl, she tries to hold down four part time jobs, go to college, and still pay the rent and eat. They say Vegas is a hard place to live, and she knows all about that. But even the hell of her life is better than the hell she ran from in New York. A father that beat and controlled her, a life with no meaning. At least now, if she can get through school, she can start a real life on her own – fake ID or no fake ID.

 

Yes, life was hard. But nothing as hard as being kidnapped along with her best “friend” (though the idea of friend is Las Vegas equates to ‘what can I get out of you for doing you the favor of being your friend) and dragged out to the desert by her ex ‘I’m-a-cheating-POS’ boyfriend who has tracked her down to Las Vegas to bring her back. Or kill her. Whichever works.

 

Telling him to get stuffed, taking her beating and broken ribs, then crawling out into the desert to die on her own and free is gutsy enough. I gained a ton of respect for her at this point, though I already respected her for keeping her moral compass (unlike her crappy friend) and going against said ‘friend’ and not going full-on prostitute made me respect her. Yep. She is one tough cookie, with more internal fortitude than any man her age I have ever known. But after the ex and the girlfriend finish doing the nasty and track her down as she crawls across the desert, then turn into wolves and begin eating her alive (literally), even weirder things happen. And suddenly, Sara’s life is more hell than she could have ever imagined.

 

Let’s get serious here. First, I really, REALLY wanted to give this book five stars with a bullet. Sara is tough and strong, yes. But she isn’t unbelievable, and she has a heart of gold and a strong sense of right and wrong – and did I mention the heart of gold? Then she meets four other women who are an absolute joy. Tough, take no prisoners women with a fetish for guns, not taking any crap off of anyone, and their husbands (pretty much in that order). There is romance, but no sex scenes, which was completely refreshing (if you are an erotica-only lover, skip this one). The story is fast, suspenseful, sometimes terrifying, and kept me totally immersed in the story. The characters are wonderful, the world building is unusual (living in the world as we know it, but with their own governance, etc.) Some of the scenes literally brought me to tears. That’s the good.

 

The bad came after I had a chance to come down off my ‘reader-high’ and start thinking about what I would write in my review, and realized I couldn’t give it a five at all. The story is complex, and kept my attention throughout, but there were some issues that a really good content editor could have solved. Ms. Blain has a brilliant mind for writing paranormal suspense, but she isn’t organized. She has a few different threads moving through the book, which is fine, I really enjoy books that are more than one-note songs, but she literally dropped the ball about midway through, dropping one of the more interesting story lines and never going back to it. No wrap, just dropped. Poor form. The book is quite long, 564 pages, and I was never bored or wanting to skip pages as I do with some longer books, and her descriptive narrative and conversational style was enjoyable, but dropping the story line, which I was invested in, shows a lack of organization. Editing for word usage, spelling, and dropped words was OK, but not good. Someone put effort into beta reading for that sort of thing, but the continuity is what killed it.

 

Overall, I will still recommend the book. The story and pace kept me up all night long (literally, yawn) and then the minute I rose I went right back to it and stayed with it to the end. Give this woman a good content editor, or just a whiteboard to write down all of her threads to make sure she ties them all up at the end and a couple of really good beta readers and she will be a force to be reckoned with in the world of Paranormal Suspense. Recommended, but could be better.

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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